Buckeyes Blitzed: Clemson dominates Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer reacts after Clemson stretched its lead to 24-0 in the third quarter. David Jablonski/Staff

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer reacts after Clemson stretched its lead to 24-0 in the third quarter. David Jablonski/Staff

Tigers advance to face Alabama in national championship game

Signs all over University of Phoenix Stadium read, “Greatness awaits,” and for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the wait continues.

The No. 2 Clemson Tigers handed No. 3 Ohio State the most lopsided defeat of the Urban Meyer era. Clemson blanked Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl, advancing to the College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama for the second straight season.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Mike Hartsock takes a closer look at a frustrating finish to 2016.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Meyer fell to 61-6 in six seasons at Ohio State. Until Saturday, he had not lost a game by more than 14 points, and the total margin of his five losses was 41 points. It was the first shutout of an Urban Meyer-coached team a span of 15 seasons and 194 games.

Ohio State had not been shut out since Nov. 20, 1993, a streak of 295 games. This was the first Fiesta Bowl shutout since 1994 when Arizona beat Miami 29-0. Ohio State had not been blanked in a bowl game since it lost the 1921 Rose Bowl 28-0 to California.

“A shutout against one of the best offenses in the country? I can’t say enough about our defense,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

Watson starred for the Tigers, running for two scores and throwing for another. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 259 yards. He rushed 15 times for 57 yards.

Clemson led 17-0 at halftime and put the game out of reach with a 7-yard touchdown run by Watson in the third quarter and a 7-yard touchdown run by Wayne Gallman in the fourth.

In the first half, Clemson outgained Ohio State 275-88 and overcame two interceptions thrown by Watson: one to Gareon Conley and one to Malik Hooker. Ohio State failed to score in the first half for the first time since 2011.

The Buckeyes had their chances to take the early momentum. Conley intercepted Watson’s first pass on Clemson’s second play of the game. Ohio State’s offense, showing signs of trouble that would plague it throughout the half, couldn’t get any closer than the 30 and settled for a 47-yard field-goal attempt by Tyler Durbin.

Durbin, who missed his first two field goals in the regular-season finale against Michigan before making the game-tying one in the final seconds to send the game to overtime, missed his first kick in this game. On Ohio State’s next drive, he missed another 47-yard attempt.

Clemson kicker Greg Huegel got the Tigers on the board on their second drive, kicking a 45-yard field goal. The Tigers add to their lead on their next possession, capping a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Watson.

Clemson stretched the lead to 17-0 late in the second quarter when Watson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fuller.

Ohio State running back Mike Weber carried the ball only one time in the first half, rushing for five yards. On his first carry of the second half, after Ohio State forced a three-and-out from Clemson, he lost a fumble.

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